Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Pictures...













I love going back through iPhoto at the end of the year and reviewing pictures. After I review I also delete and archive onto my external hard drive. Which is a good thing because I noticed I'm down to only 10 GB of hard drive space on the computer.

One interesting thing I noticed when I went back through pictures for this post was that the snow seemed to melt fairly early in the year. The picture of the bleeding hearts was from April 19th. A lot of times we Minnesotans feel like the winter goes on and on when in reality I don't think that's the case. My mom would probably disagree with me.

This year seemed to fly by quite fast. And looking back I don't feel like I accomplished much. But on a day to day scale I suppose I did. We were all fed and clothed and arrived in a timely manner to wherever we needed to be. Bills were paid. Laundry done and put away. When ones primary role is to take care of a child and a home and all that goes with that, accomplishments looked at over a year's time can seem quite small. But when looked at closely they are not. At the end of this year we are all happy and healthy and have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Simplifying in 2011

I've been thinking a lot about the *stuff* that has accumulated in our home since we moved into it. When we moved in it was just the two of us and we didn't have that much stuff. At least it didn't seem like it we did. Now that we have lived her for 8 years there are things that we have accumulated over those years that aren't being used, take up space, and that I just plain don't like. Books, dishes, toys and varied other junk.

I have read a number of books on clearing clutter, simplifying or down-sizing. One rule of thumb (in variations) that is often applied is don't have things in your home that are not useful, beautiful or bring happiness. As I sit here typing this post there is a stack of magazines 2 feet high in our magazine rack. The ones on the bottom have likely been there since summer. There is another 2 foot stack to my left under the book case. Stacked on the book case are books in front of books because they don't all fit on the shelf. There is also a basket of *papers* that may or may not be important. And a stack of papers on top of the printer that need to be dealt with.

One of the worst culprits of clutter for us is paper or media. Mail, books, magazines, the bulletin from church, newspapers. I receive 2 photography magazines, 1 parenting magazine, and 1 home/craft/lifestyle magazine, 1 scrapbooking magazine and one local magazine a month. So that's 6 magazines per month coming into our home. They don't leave that quickly either. I have all the issues of Martha Stewart that I've received over the last at least 9 years. I keep thinking I might need them. And I do get out the Christmas issues in November and December. We also have a nice collection of magazines downstairs that I've been meaning to go through and tear out recipes and other ideas so I can get rid of the magazines. But then I'm left with piles of magazines pages to organize. And I have a system to do just that. But it just makes work. And then I have to sift through that to find an idea.

Some days I feel suffocated by the clutter. And it's not that our house is over run by it. I am fairly organized. It just seems that there is too much in that organization. Before we went away for Christmas I did all the laundry and put all the laundry away. But I was unable to hang up all of Morgan's pants because I ran out of hangers. We do not have a tiny closet but it is also not a walk-in sort of deal. Morgan's wardrobe takes up roughly 3/4 of the closet space. I take up more dresser space. I'm not sure one man needs 40 shirts. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't wear them all. We each have things we accumulate or collect. I have a collection of rubber stamps I rarely use. As well as dishes from our grandmothers that I feel I can't part with because we may use them someday. Morgan collects coffee cups and has an issue of almost every newspaper he had an article published in when he was a writer.

It's probably this time of the year each year that I feel this way. Burdened by stuff. Things accumulate without us noticing much and then I begin to realize that we need to go through things and clean out and get rid of. I just think this year we need to do it in a more major and thorough way!

Incidentally, I had to leave this post for a few hours during which time Morgan came home, read the post and decided he'd go through his shirts! I can check that off the list!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Awesome giveaway...

Check out BC Designs a blog by Becky Conley for a great giveaway! And while you are there check out some of her beautiful creations!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A poor neglected blog...

My poor little neglected blog. If you are a regular reader here (are there any left!?) I apologize! This fall I realized I am a working mama and some things fell by the wayside. My blog was one of those things. I write on it a lot in my head. But I don't think there is good technology for getting my thoughts onto the blog without me having to do more than think about it! And I write really well while I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep. And some nights I'm tempted to get up and write but then I won't get any sleep at all. This night might be going in that direction too.

Owen is busy enjoying preschool and many other adventures that befall a 4.5 year old boy. He's busy planning for Christmas. Mostly wishing for everything he sees. It will be hard work this Advent season directing and teaching him about the reason and meaning of the season rather than focusing on the gifts. It is very important to us that he have some understanding of what the meaning is. It is so easy for children to get caught in the whirlwind of commercialism and want given their self-centered natures already!

He is also loving the snow. Although after tonight it will be mostly gone. We've had about 6 inches I believe but it was warm and rainy today which isn't good for accumulation. It's inevitable now though, there will be more!

Now that Owen is in preschool I am working 3 days a week. It's only 1 day more than I had been working but I had always considered myself a stay home mama with an unimportant part-time job. Now that part-time job, while still part-time, has become much more demanding and important. I am happy to have a job and a boss I like and who appreciates me but I was quite overwhelmed this fall when I realized I was a working mom and I had a lot more to juggle now. Then add a small but growing photography business on top of everything and I was just not prepared with all I had on my plate! It's good preparation for next year when O begin s Kindergarten though. Which I can't believe is going to be happening. Life really just keeps hurdling forward whether we are ready and willing or not.

I am almost a year behind on my scrapbooking. It's not for a lack of trying. It's mostly due to a lack of creativity and time. I've done two retreats this year and that is when I've done all my scrapbooking. The first one in the spring I finished up my pages for 2009 and started on 2010. At the fall retreat I putzed around on 3 mediocre layouts. So not like how I was working on pages last year! And I felt like I had a lot of boring or lack luster photos for pages too. I was just not inspired by the pictures I had. From the pictures I had it appeared we are a rather boring little family! I want to work more on recording memories too which sometimes doesn't involve a photograph. Maybe that will be a challenge for 2011. And maybe 2010 will have fewer and scaled back layouts!

Now that it's past my bedtime I will leave you with a little picture of O enjoying the snow!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Wish List...

Today's Mama is sponsoring a giveaway for Game Stop. So here is my Mama's Holiday Wish List.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family? That we are able to enjoy the holidays in peace and quiet with minimal stress and hustle & bustle and focus on the joys of being a family.

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition? Our Christmas morning tradition when we are able to be home for Christmas is to wake-up, open gifts with Owen and then have a wonderful breakfast together. Then we got to Mimi's house.

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? As much as I love technology and gadgets I think I'd ask for a family membership to the YMCA.

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money? I love to bake and make things with my crafty skills using the supplies I already have and share those hand baked and handmade things with others.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up? I loved playing rummy with my grandpa. He was the best to play cards with.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood? Our family traditions have changed with the passing of people in my family. But I think what hasn't changed is trying to be with the people who matter most to us.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip? A lovely cabin up north somewhere where we could sled and ski and cozy up by a nice fire and read and be together.

8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? XBox 360, Kinect with Kinect Adventures, and Kinect Fitness Bundle. These are all items we would never buy for ourselves but I think they would be pretty fun if we won them!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One year

It's been one year since my friend Nikki passed away from leukemia. Not one of those days have I not thought about her and missed her. In the beginning it was a horrible realization every morning. I would wake up and not long after remember that she was gone, and my heart would sink. After awhile I began to know that when I woke up. And my hear would still sink. It was no longer a daily realization but part of the reality of our lives. And I would continue on. Because what else is there to do? But I would still have moments when I had to remind myself that I couldn't call her and tell her what Owen had done that day. Or ask if she and Marc wanted to come for dinner. And gradually I've stopped having those moments. And I no longer cry every day. I can talk about her and tell stories about her and share her with others without breaking down. But there are still plenty of tears.

This quote basically sums up how Nikki touched the lives of everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”


We will never be the same for having known her and loved her. She was joyful and passionate and full of life and she left that with us in our hearts. And while I will always miss her every day I know that where she is she is spreading joyfulness and passion and humor and love.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Must see video...

The sequel to the Pink Glove Dance! My friend, who is a nurse at the U of M, is in it! And the survivors from MN are in the Walker Sculpture Garden in front of Spoon Bridge that I have posted pictures of before.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

I dream of peace and quiet...OR why I stay up way too late...

When I was still teaching I drove to work listening to public radio or a station that actually played some music in the morning rather than just the chatter of a couple of idiot DJs or hosts as they like to call themselves. On the way home I listened to nothing and tried to breath deeply while driving. Now when I go to work I listen to public radio or music and often the same on the way home. Perhaps that says something about my job. There is a lot less talking involved and I'm only there for 4 or 5 hours at a time.

Teaching was a very emotionally draining job for me. Maybe emotional isn't the right word. Mentally draining. My current jobs (mortgage assistant, mama, wife, homemaker) aren't as mentally draining but they still take something out of me that only peace and quiet can restore. The things is, though, there isn't a lot of peace and quiet in my day. I'm bombarded for most of the day (while I'm home) with Owen's requests for a playmate (me or someone), food (small but frequent portions) or any number of other things that he can think of from turning on a light because he's scared of the dark (even though the sun is streaming in the window of the room) to wiping his butt (we are working on that!). Then there is the dog. He spent a large part of this morning wandering the house whining because he knew Owen had a PB sandwich and he desperately had to have some of it. I hate whining. From all forms of life. Especially my child and my dog. Eventually I let him go downstairs to sniff out the sandwich remains, that I had hid, until he came to his own conclusion that he wasn't getting the sandwich. That dog eats way too much bread. And anything else he can steal off the table.

It seems that most of my life is spent responding to the needs of others. Child, boss, husband, friends. I get a little overwhelmed by how people don't seem to be able to do things for themselves. Getting dressed, printing documents, finding keys or cell phone. I am by no means perfect but I do pride myself on being able to be mostly self-sufficient. Maybe it's because I don't like to rely on other people. Because I want things done the right way so I figure out how to do them myself. Because I don't like to be at someone's beck and call all the time so I'm not going to do that to someone else. I don't mean to sound heartless. I do help Owen when he needs help but I also want him to know that he can turn on a light on his own. Or that he will, at some future date (but soon), be required to wipe his own butt! And I want Morgan to put things in a place where he can find them so I don't have to be called upon to find them for him. The real issue is that he needs to learn how to actually *look* for things and not just survey the scene.

I feel like a lot of my time is spent with some form of chaos and I don't like chaos. I prefer order. Neatness. No unpleasant surprises. So at night, after O is asleep and Morgan has wandered of to bed to read or sleep I find myself wide awake doing whatever I want. Watching episodes of Mad Men one after the other. Enjoying a much to large dish of ice cream. Surfing the internet for creative inspiration. Reading a book uninterrupted. I love these moments of solitude. I sometimes day dream about them during the day. It's kind of like the carrot that keeps me going. Unfortunately I pay for these late nights the next day. When I can't drag my butt out of bed or get motivated to get anything done.

I'm hoping that once O starts preschool we will find a better balance of all the things our family needs. More playtime and learning for Owen with people his own age. More peace and quiet for me.

I guess this is the nature of an introvert raising an extrovert!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Random...

I found this website with a bunch of journaling prompts and while I think they would be awesome for some scrap pages I also thought they would make good blogging material! These are just the first 4 on the list.

Where did you live as a child – town, country, suburb, etc.
I grew up in a tiny suburb of Minneapolis that grew as I did. At one time there was farm land around us but that is mostly gone now. It is also the town and house that my mom grew up in. There are lots of memories in that place.

What is your greatest joy? Your greatest sorrow? My greatest joy would be Owen and motherhood. Motherhood is something that you cannot explain to someone who isn't a mother and until you do it you don't understand. I think marriage is similar! My greatest sorrow would be the loss of loved ones. Especially Nikki.

What do you feel has been the most significant world events that have taken place in your lifetime and why? Well, the things I remember the most are:
  1. the explosion of the space shuttle in 1986. I was in the sixth grade and the entire grade was at a winter camp up north in MN. I remember our teacher coming in and telling us. I was sitting on the top bunk writing in my camp journal.
  2. Princess Diana dying in 1997. I was home on summer break from school before going back to do my student teaching.
  3. The September 11th attacks. I was in a staff meeting when it happened and we found out after the meeting while students were arriving at school.
  4. The election of President Obama.
Describe your yard as a child. As I mentioned I grew up in the house my mom grew up in. When I was younger there were more trees than there are now. Many of these have died or had to be cut down. It was a huge yard. It's not as huge to me now! My great uncle lived with us and we would sit in his car after he came back from work eating fruit that he had brought home under the big pine tree by the driveway. It was a wonderful yard for playing in and even though our house was on a busy street it was always a safe place to play because there was so much room. It makes me happy that Owen gets to play in the same yard as a child.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Creative style...

According to this quiz, for me, creativity is a release. I would tend to agree.

For you, creativity is first and foremost a form of expression: it creates a special link between the internal and external worlds. It allows you to get a grasp of your powerful emotions, by molding them into a physical form. In fact, the most important thing for you is to be able to release your emotions. You need to be able to touch them or look at them in concrete form, and to do that you have to find a way to make them come alive. This is how your desires and anxieties take shape. Keeping things bottled up creates a tension that can only be resolved once you have expressed how you feel. This means you have to be strong enough not to let yourself get swept away by chaotic impulses; if you turn your creative urges on everyday life — making a picnic, singing to the baby, choosing what to wear — you can express yourself while staying rooted in reality. Creativity is principally cathartic. It relieves a deep need, an almost primal, archaic impulse. For you, being creative is about having the power to give form to something you feel, to those deep personal issues that are often raw and disorganized. For these reasons you are usually attracted to art that demands physicality, that allows you to express what’s inside, and that unites spontaneity, strength, freedom, power and movement.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Funny stuff...

I think I've mentioned before that I love Owen at 4. He's funny. He says funny things and does funny stuff. Although he talks about butts and farting and poop a lot.

The other day he and Morgan were making a trip to the potty while we were at a restaurant and he said to me, "We'll be back in a jippy mom!" A jippy! I loved that.

On the way to a friend's house last week we were chatting while in the car and he said, "When I grow up I can be a mailman, a doctor and drive a car." I said, "yes honey, you can do all those things if you'd like." I grew up being told I could be anything I wanted to be "even and Indian Chief". I don't know where my mom came up with that but I knew she meant I could do whatever I wanted to do. Unfortunately I let some fear and some outside influence limit me and I think I may have done a few other things had I had a little bit more confidence to do them. Like study abroad or dance more or take some art classes.

I love how cheerful Owen is. Most of the time anyway. Yesterday he wasn't so cheerful. He was mad because we couldn't go to Donald's (Mc Donald's) after the eye doctor. We had to get home and have a quick lunch before my sister arrived and I had to go to work. I explained that we had food at home and we would eat there. Except that he was "so-so-so-so hungry" and wanted to go to a "quick drive-thru" rather than eat at home. This kind of set the tone for things. He got mad because I asked him to close the car door before he came in the house, which he didn't do, and ended up having to go back out and do that. When he came in he was just too tired to move and ended up laying on the floor in the kitchen. He couldn't possibly get up on the chair to eat and started throwing a fit so he ended up sitting in his room crying while I ate lunch and he threw a fit. My sister arrived while he was still carrying out his drama in his room. When I went in I told him Naunee was here and asked if he was done to which he replied, "yes, I'm done crying now". He came out and ate his lunch. Shortly after I got home from work he decided he was starving again and brought me a banana that he wanted made into a smoothie. I asked if he could just eat the banana and he said no. So I got out the blender and together we made a nice strawberry -banana smoothie. I put it in two glasses and put his on the table for him. He sat down and said, "I want a banana to eat with my smoothie." I said, "No, we are not eating a banana too. You wanted a smoothie with the banana so I made a smoothie. Now drink the smoothie." "But I'm hungry too. I need something to eat while I drink my smoothie!" "No, we are just having smoothies." The crying began and the whining about how he's so-so-so-so hungry AND thirsty! I told him he could drink the smoothie that we made, which he HAD TO HAVE but that wasn't good enough. More crying ensued so I carried him to his room and on the way he wails, "Not again!" I went back out to the kitchen to get his smoothie so he could cry and drink it in his room and while I was leaving his room he says, "MAMA! Don't forget to close the door!" These things drive me nuts and make me laugh at the same time. I swear sometimes he's a little bit crazy.

This morning at 2am he comes into our room and says, "I'm so hungry guys!" Like we weren't doing anything in our room besides lying there waiting to serve whatever need he had! He gets this starving gene from Morgan and since Morgan can't go hungry for more than a nanosecond he always gets him something to eat or drink. Or makes sure I do it if it's 2am. So I got him a snack and some juice and put it in his room. After he ate it he came and crawled into our bed. He laid there for 15 minutes and said, "I want some water please." So Morgan fetched him some water. 15 minutes later he says, "I want something juicy." So Morgan got him more juice!

But he really is quite cheerful and friendly. Today we were at a friend's house and the neighbor came home. Owen's friend was saying hi to the neighbor and Owen hollers over, "I'm Owen! Hi! I'm Owen!" I just love watching his personality and sense of humor and his sense of self developing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A little cuteness...

Last week Owen and I had a little time to kill while my phone was being looked at (again). We wandered around the outdoor mall not too far from us. I love that place, but not in the winter. How or why anyone decided these would be great to build in MN I'm not sure but they don't seem to be doing too poorly.

While out and about we wandered into Anthropologie where I found this cute little 4x6 album on clearance.


I didn't NEED it but it was so cheap I couldn't pass it up. Almost thrift store priced! I am going to fill it with photos from our summer.

It was hotter than hades here today with tropical dew points and humidity. We spent the morning at the splash park with some friends. O had PT this afternoon and then a swimming lesson this evening. He has not been excited about swimming lessons at all this summer. NOT EXCITED. He's missed more of them then he's attended I think and he only had 4 left so we decided he had to attend these last 4. Last week he got so upset about having to go he threw up. Which pretty much cemented the deal in his favor. This week we prepared him well in advance. We started the preparations last week on Thursday! It probably didn't help that I wouldn't remember that he had a lesson until Morgan got home and asked if he was ready to go. To which I replied, "where?" That mostly has to do with me not knowing what day it is on a regular basis! A hazard of only working 2 days a week and it being summer. This week I took him to the lesson and we arrived early enough that he could play in the wading pool before his lesson and "warm up". He still got a little pouty but I kept encouraging him and reassuring him. When it was time for the lesson we took him to the instructor who seems very nice and left him sitting on the edge of the pool with him. The lesson went fine and he had a great time! We still don't know what all the apprehension was about but hopefully he's over it. I still find it baffling. He loves being in the water and does quite well with holding his breath and diving under and all that stuff that I dislike about swimming! Just three lessons left! Which I will have to set an alarm on the computer to remember!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why I'm afraid to leave the house some days...

Last night I watched the news. I don't do it often, but occasionally I decide I should know what's going on. I usually only watch one station's news program because two of the other three are alarmist and the the third one is okay I just don' much care for it. Sometimes I flip around to see if there is anything special. But mostly I just like the one station.

Last night's lineup was like this:

  1. Car crash involving a family in a van hit by a woman who was most likely drunk and/or high who crossed the median (a wide grassy area). An 11 year old boy was killed and his father was seriously injured. His mother and sister were physically unharmed.
  2. A standoff between cops and a suicidal guy armed with knives in a Super 8 Motel results in the man being shot and killed.
  3. A follow-up (or retelling) of a crazy guy who shot and killed his sister, brother-in-law and niece, and wounded his other sister who only survived because she pretended to be dead. His explanation to cops, "I just snapped."
I do not pretend to understand mental illness. People deal with all sorts of things that I can't and don't understand. Serious scary things. I just don't think (in two of the cases) that senseless violence is the answer. But I guess when you have lost your senses that's the kind of violence that results.

The news is disheartening to me. It can put me in a funk for days. As can cop shows or other shows whose subject matter is the suffering or unhappiness of others. I suppose I should be thankful that at 36 I am still sensitive to these things rather than able to turn a blind eye or be callous about it. I know good things can come from suffering. But why does there have to be so much of it?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Marthas and Marys...

The passage for the Gospel reading at church today was from Luke chapter 10 verses 38-42.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one this is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her."

I am familiar with this story. It is one of the Bible's most popular stories and you don't need to attend a church regularly to have heard it. It was the focus of the sermons for today. And while the pastor was preaching two thoughts occurred to me with regard to this passage.

1. Eat dessert first. "...chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her." Don't tell me this doesn't apply to dessert!
2. I am missing important things in Owen's childhood. "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one this is needed."

It a lot of ways a childhood is like sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. It only lasts for so long. The innocence and and awe. The fascination and amazing observations a child makes. Those don't last a lifetime. The memory of them, the knowledge learned will last but the moments of childhood are fleeting. I think this hit me like a ton of bricks. Especially when the communion distribution started and there was a steady stream of people over 65 going up and down the aisles. Life itself is fleeting. We are here for only a brief amount of time and that time is all we have to enjoy this life and the moments we have in it.

During these "revelations" I realized that I tend to be too much of a Martha and not enough of a Mary. I am so enjoying Owen being 4. He is so clever and funny. He makes me laugh the laughs that feel so good. Just by being who he is. He makes brilliant observations and carries on interesting conversations. He really is a marvelous little boy. And already 4 years have gone by! I've been trying to pay attention. Record the moments and memories, documenting them in my journal to him and in his scrapbook and with countless photographs. I want him to see himself as a child when he is no longer one. In the midst of this, his childhood, I also work and try to run a household and try to run a tiny business and lead a life of my own too. It's a tough balance between Martha and Mary. Owen will not grow up and wonder if the house was always clean. He may have a vague recollection (or not so vague) of me putting things in the their place and trying to keep up our house but his childhood being happy or not does not depend on that. He will however, remember the time we spent together. Or the time not spent together.

Even before Owen was born I knew what I wanted his childhood to be like. Innocent, happy, sheltered, enjoyed, care-free. I've always wanted for him to be able to look back on his childhood and feel like it was good. And remember countless things about it that were good and enjoyable and fun and spent with us. I know I am not a perfect mama and I'm not going to be. I make mistakes and will continue to do so. I acknowledge that. But Owen's childhood happens once and I want him to feel that he was loved and cared for and enjoyed. I wish I could slow it down. That each day would take 48 hours rather than 24. But I won't get that. I want him to stay 4 forever. At least for now. I'm sure in a few years I will tire of wiping his butt! But my point is that the time we have together is moving so fast that if I don't take the time to spend with him, to really enjoy that time, it will be gone and I don't get it back. Ever. So this week I'm going to try harder to add a little more Maryness to my Marthaness. There is always something that needs to get done. Maybe this week those things will lose some of their importance.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Panoramas...

While we were in Montana last week we took a short trip through Yellowstone National Park. The views there are amazing and I took a bunch of shots with the intent to create some panoramas because Yellowstone is a place where one image rarely captures the view, regardless of how wide a lens one uses. (If you click the images you should be able to see them larger.)




Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life with a 4 year old...

These are pretty good examples of what I get when I try to take pictures of Owen lately.


On both occasions the light was near perfect. In the first one I knew just by the light that I would get awesome catch lights. I could see them in O's eyes while we were sitting outside chatting. I told him I was going to get my camera and take some pictures of him. Just a few. I even offered him a dollar, which he was pretty excited about. Until he realized I actually wanted him to look at me for the picture and I was going to take more than one. Then he wanted his camera (my little P&S) to take pictures of me. I consented to this but he still was uncooperative. I did get a couple other cute ones but none with the catch lights like the first one.

The second picture I took at a local park in the evening. Perfect evening light. But again, Owen was not happy about having his picture taken and I got mostly monster faces, roaring faces, or him simply turning his head. I would like to do his four year portraits but I don't think he will cooperate long enough for me to get anything good! I may just end up using the first picture in this post.

I am amazed at all the things Owen is curious about lately, the questions he asks and his active and creative imagination. He's always asking or saying or doing something that is fun or fascinating. Tonight it was about testicles. He was under the impression that pee was stored there. I told him his pee was kept in his bladder that was up into his body. Then of course he asked what testicles were for. I told him he didn't really need them until he was older. Truthfully, since I don't have testicles I don't know what all they do! I guess I'll have to google it!

We are leaving for Montana on Saturday morning. We are flying out and driving back. Morgan's parents are giving us their old car. It will replace mine, which we are donating to an automotive repair training school. It seems their is a sensor or something in the transmission that has gone awry. So the car runs fine it just doesn't "go". We could repair it but we were planning to replace one of our cars with Morgan's mom's car anyway, we just didn't know when or which car. So this has decided it.

And it turns out or dish washer wasn't broken after all! It just overloaded the motor and need time to sit and reset it self. Thank goodness. We like having a dishwasher!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

When it rains...

Figuratively and literally around here lately. It's been a dreary, gray, rainy week. Not much for lifting the spirits. I noticed it's been a month since my last post. My how time flies. And my debbie downer mood continues.

This week...
  • Was (would have been) Nikki's 31st birthday. 30 years is far too short a life for such a vibrant person. I continue to miss her terribly every single day. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It chokes me to just to think of her being gone and some days I wake up and realize all over again she is gone. Like it's a brand new realization.
  • Morgan found out he didn't get a job he interviewed for. We were really hoping for this one.
  • The transmission went out on my car on the way home from my book club meeting in the middle lane of a very busy, major freeway in Minneapolis. Fortunately Owen was not with me. It was not fun. Tow truck service is not cheap. Thank goodness for a little reimbursement from the insurance company.
  • The dishwasher broke yesterday.
  • My boss was out of town Wed-Sat but luckily that did not bring the usual "all hell breaking loose" that is often does.
  • Did I mention my car??? Yes, I do believe I did. I love my car. Even though it's 11 years old and missing a few minor parts. She even has a name. Betty. She's been a great car but this may be the repair that we can't afford to make.
You know how sometimes bad things happen in threes? I'm sort of waiting for the last shoe to drop. Maybe I have bad karma or something.

My craft room is in major need of a thorough cleaning. I'm sure there's a crap-ton of stuff that could go. Come to think of it, there is a crap-ton of stuff around the whole house that could go. Owen's closet would be a good place to start. 4 years of clothes takes up a lot of space. It's messy enough that even Owen commented on it. Probably because he sees it as a place that has potential for being a great place to play. I did do a thorough cleaning of the underneath of our bed. Morgan didn't find the aftermath pleasant. Mainly a laundry basket of crap in his office for him to go through that had accumulated underneath and on his side of the bed. I think he believes areas that are out of view are unnecessary to clean. They aren't bothering anyone. EXCEPT ME. He didn't add that part but I'm sure he thought it. There is a reason why I do most of the cleaning around here. If I didn't there would be all manner of places that he would miss. Baseboards. Shelves. The crevices around the door frames that collect bits of dirt and dust. It's the kind of work that only a very conscientious, borderline obsessive compulsive is capable of doing well. Toys would just be tossed in a random bin! Clothes would not be in order in the closet or facing the right direction. There is order to be maintained. It's how I maintain a little control of a life that is mostly out of my control. Much to my dismay.

So that's life in a nutshell. Hopefully I'll have more to write about in the next month. Maybe some things that are happy. I need to wrap my head around a more positive attitude. I don't generally think of myself as a pessimist but I've been feeling like that for awhile now. I get overwhelmed by all the "adult" things in life sometimes. It's a lot of work and responsibility to be a grown-up. Some days I'd just rather not be one.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A paradigm shift...

In life I don't think it's uncommon for people to grow and change in their beliefs and faith. Ones outlook on life changes in relation to or in response to their experiences, events that occur and simple maturity. It wouldn't be living if we didn't change.

I'm not opposed to change. To quote my mother, it's the only thing constant in life. I am however, somewhat resistant to it. I like things to stay the same. The weather. My weight (if I can get to a comfortable weight!). My mood. The mood of others. All of this relates to my love of stability and structure and routine. I don't like the unexpected. Happy surprises are wonderful. But even those can be unnerving and disappointing sometimes. And I like to be in control of the change too. (Go figure).

In the past year there have been changes in my life that I haven't been happy about. Changes that have affected my outlook on life. And my faith. I know and believe that God is working in our world. And I want to see those things and believe in that. But when change that shakes one to the core happens, it is difficult to look at the world in the same way as before that change.

It's been almost 8 months since Nikki died. And it tears me apart to type that. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her and feel anger toward God for not healing her. I am not a person who believes that God takes people from us. I know bad things happen and it isn't the result of some greater plan written down before we were born. But that doesn't help with the anger and resentment about her being gone. Or how to reconcile that she is gone with my faith.

One source of comfort and inspiration I have found is the former senior pastor at our church. He is battling cancer again. He had lymphoma in 2008 and it was found to have come back during one of his routine check-ups. I am amazed at his strength and his faith as he battles this disease. And I am disappointed in myself at not being able to be as resilient. After all I have not suffered with this. Just with the loss.

I came across this piece of wisdom on a blog I follow. It is maintained by a woman who lost her husband to cancer.

"Every day is truly a gift. The day after isn't guaranteed. Life is precious and uncertain and too special to be wasted."

And isn't it the truth. We don't know what tomorrow or even the next hour will bring. And it is wasteful to waste the time we have when we should be doing what we love and being with those we love. And approaching the world from a place of love and peace and grace that can only come when we fill our hearts with these things. And that is so hard to do when we live in a world filled with so much loss and senseless violence and selfishness and greed. And so many other things that are useless. It often seems that the evil and profane and sad things dominate our society. They certainly dominate the news!

I have for a long time lived in a bit of a bubble. I don't want to know about a lot of the things that are happening in the world. It saddens me. And often does for days. So I don't watch the news and I rarely listen to anything other than public radio and only certain times of the day. I protect myself from what I don't want to know. And while this may seem rather naive it often seems to be necessary for my own sanity and self-preservation. And what has been so difficult since Nikki died is protecting myself from the grief and sadness that her absence has brought. It's not possible to do. And thus I am forced to learn to deal with this. And it's so very hard. But it is changing the way that I live each day. And for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The contents and a treat...

Noelia posted a fun little post about the contents of her purse. I enjoyed this little bit of voyeurism so I thought I'd share mine with you. (It needed a good going through anyway!)

From top left:
  • My handy notepad. I can't be without one.
  • Cash from my last portrait session waiting to be deposited at the bank.
  • A Trader Joe's receipt, a list of reminders and under those the coupon for Owen's free birthday ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.
  • Tissue
  • My funky pink wallet
  • My phone
  • A little bottle of TUMS
  • Burt's Bees Tinted lip stuff
  • My funky coin pouch that I use to hold my calculator and various business card sized cards. (My sister made it for me!)
  • My other cute notepad and pen. (A gift from my friend BJ) I have a list of books in it right now.
  • Pill keeper that needs to be refilled
  • A tape measure. Another item I cannot be without.

And speaking of Trader Joe's, I have a little treat I need to share. These are my current favorite chocolate obsession.


Tiny little peanut butter cups one can eat by the handful. A dangerous thing in our house! But they are delightful!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Some days you're the windshield...

and some days you're the bug. Here's a little list of the events that transpired today:
  1. Owen threw a fit this morning because his Cheetoes were gone. (I guess he had some leftover from dinner last night but he left them on the table and Morgan ate them.)
  2. Owen let himself outside through the front breezeway door. Buck naked. He told me his puppy was watching him and keeping him safe. (Right. Ludwig is NOT a watch dog. Well, he is. But only because he watches things happen.)
  3. During our hike with friends at the bog Owen threw a huge fit because his feet got wet. Yup. In a bog. Where there is water. Which he saw and stepped in. You would have though something had bit his feet off at the ankles by the way he carried on. I just walked past him. I know, I'm such a sympathetic mama.
  4. While we were sitting outside this afternoon with my mom, who stopped to visit, a bird shit on me. The whole world is their latrine and one of them chooses to shit right on my shoulder.
  5. After my mom left I took O into the bathroom to use the potty and he peed on the floor because he was not aiming. He likes to pee hands free and evidently his penis was stuck in the down position. Those penises cause more problems.
  6. Before getting ready for bed Owen threw up on the carpet in the living room.
Bright spots in my day:
  1. When my friend Carrie called this morning and heard Owen screaming in the background (about not having Cheetoes) she asked if I needed to come over. A friend without children would have hung up.
  2. Hiking with Carrie & Kim and their boys. Because the melt down in the bog would have been worse if it was just me and Owen. Seeing all our boys with sticks in nature. So fun.
  3. Carrie (our neighbor) calling to see if Owen wanted to come down and play with her son. Which he was thrilled to do. And I got to come back home and take a nap.
  4. Morgan getting Owen ready for bed while I put dishes in the dishwasher. Not my favorite activity but there were no tears involved in it.
  5. Mimi stopping by to visit. (And witnessing the bird incident)
  6. A diet coke with fresh lime.
  7. The sunshine and warm temps.
It's days like these that I wonder what possessed me to leave my teaching career to stay home. But I know it's still the right thing. Even if it involves days like these. And I'm so thankful for the bright spots.

(P.S. Normally I proof my posts for typos and poor grammar. I'm tired. I'm not doing it tonight. If there are errors that's too bad. I'm not perfect, I make mistakes. And chances are, so do you.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

RIP my beloved Coke glass...

This is my beloved Coke glass from which I often drink my diet coke with a wedge of lime. It is my favorite glass. And it is an only. Was an only. It used to have a mate but that one suffered at the hands of Mr. Butterfingers. (AKA Morgan)

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I write. These pictures are of the last diet coke I would drink from my beloved glass. While Morgan was hand washing my glass it broke. (I never hand wash it!) I was just on my way out the door for a portrait session appointment and I was gape mouthed. I couldn't believe it had happened. And never could Morgan. Of course he was apologetic. He knew it was my favorite glass. And while it is only a glass, it reminds me that I need to enjoy the everyday moments in life. We never know when they will be last moments.

RIP my beloved coke glass. I will miss you. (Although I will be on the look out for a replacement!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A glimpse...

Right now...
  • it's 37˚ outside but sunny. A bit of a brisk day but I'll take it. There's not snow.
  • Owen is playing and pretending with his R2D2 robot he got in his lunch today at Donald's.
  • Lentils and brown rice are simmering on the stove for dinner. Which will be paired with broccoli.
  • I'm wearing jeans. Which I stared doing after I found a perfect pair. These are not "the perfect" ones, but still comfy. It's a step away from my standard black with a stretch waist.
  • I'm looking forward to Bingo Night with some mama girlfriends. We have some drinks (me-diet coke with a lime) chat about life, and play bingo.
  • today we bought seeds to grow in the garden. 2 kinds of pumpkins. I'm sure Morgan will be thrilled. 2 kinds to find room for.
  • planning for new carpet in the breezeway. I found samples today at Home Depot.
  • after I'm done writing I am putting new knobs on Owen's closet doors. Hopefully these will stay on.
  • thinking about losing weight. I think about it a lot. I don't do much about it. But I'm thinking about doing something about it. It's a start.
  • wondering how the dog got back in the house because I don't recall letting him in. But maybe I didn't let him out when we got home.
  • wondering if it's normal to have so much memory loss at 36.
Now for the door knobs.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Inspiring...

There is something fantastically inspiring about the work of Tim Burton. I am really looking forward to seeing his interpretation of Alice in Wonderland. It has been one of my favorite stories since I was a child.


I love the bright but antiqued feel of the characters. The attention to detail in the costumes and set. And the dry and dark humor that always exists in his films. Hopefully it will be a winner at the Oscars next year!

Monday, March 08, 2010

A little right now randomness...

I am trying to decide on a photograph to exhibit at an art crawl that my mom's company is hosting. There isn't a space limit really but I don't want to print a ton of pictures or frame a ton. So I've been trying to narrow it down. And then decide on what size to print and how to mount or frame them. Sheesh! I took a little poll on facebook (of the ones below) and basically came up with the dandelion or the leaf. And I think I'm going to do a standout mount on foam board. My finisher is having a sale starting tomorrow so I can save some money on the mounting and go without a frame! I think the dandelion will look real nice at 16x24 or so.








Owen had botox in his calf muscle last week. Now we have intense PT appointments for the next 9 weeks to develop the strength in that muscle. Since this is his first round at the botox the dr. used a fairly low dose to see how it worked for Owen. The appointment went well and the physical therapist was happy with the increased range of motion he had today.

Our day was fairly busy today. PT in the am, lunch with Mimi. A little shopping with Mimi and Naunee and then a haircut. To my amazement I found a pair of jeans that seem to fit me perfectly. Not too tight or too loose in the waist and they are the right length. Which is the most amazing part. It seems I need petite-short jeans. Which I didn't even know they made! And I say "seem" to fit perfectly because jeans can change after they've been on for a bit. We'll see how they work. Oh, and the best part is they were on clearance for $7.00. That's better than thrift store prices!!! After our shopping I took Owen for a haircut. Amazingly he sat still and made polite conversation with the stylist and got a nice haircut. I was very impressed. When I cut Owen's hair it's a disaster. He will not hold still for me for anything. And I've tried all forms of bribery! And now we are enduring the "witching hours" from 4-6pm. When a boy who doesn't nap anymore, but could use a nap, can go from pleasant and calm to a complete meltdown in a matter of seconds and for any reason. And I can be just plain witchy if there is meltdown behavior! So we try to do things that are low stress and are the least likely to cause a meltdown or any crying (for either of us!)

We are anxiously awaiting spring. Hoping for no more snow. And a slow thaw. Parts of MN are susceptible for serious flooding and that is never good. Fortunately we are not in one of those areas. But we do live by a lake so I get a little worried about it. However, we had so little precipitation last summer and fall that the lake was very low. Hopefully the snowfall we've had will fill it back up!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Roses...

For Valentine's Day Morgan gave me roses. Actually, a couple days before. But it counts. I didn't ask how much he paid. Hopefully not a lot. I hate that "hey, let's mark flowers up for V-day" thing. It's wrong. But the flowers are beautiful and have lasted quite nicely. After yesterdays short lived photo shoot I decided to practice on the flowers. Which have nothing in common with the moving subject I try to practice with! (If you click on the images you can view them bigger. Which is even better!)






This last shot was a happy accident. I had my exposure set wrong for my aperture and got this really over exposed shot but I liked how it turned out anyway.

Red roses are a tricky flower for me to photograph. Red is not a color that my camera easily reproduces. It generally turns out too orange. I end up tweaking the colors in PSE to get them right. Which is something I struggle with. Not the task of fixing but having to do it. I want all my work to be good straight out of the camera. But I think in reality that's not going to happen. Camera sensors aren't as sensitive as the human eye and lighting is rarely perfect. So the chances of things being the way I actually see them is not always high. So thank goodness for Photoshop!

As some of you know I dabble in other arts and crafts. Scrapbooking, knitting, collage art, sewing, jewelry making and have in my life painted, potted and blown glass. I like to use my hands to make stuff!!! But it wasn't until photography that I found my artistic voice. I was talking about this with a friend not too long ago and started thinking more about it. I've always loved photography but didn't really explore it as an art form until we got a digital camera. ***(below thought goes here)***And the main reason is I didn't want to invest so much money in trial and error and the learning curve. Film and the dark room. Rarely do I do things (arts and crafts wise) on a small scale. I didn't have the time or the access to take photography classes in college so it was just not something I ever pursued. Which is the beauty of digital photography. It is so much more accessible now. Which some people find positive and others find appalling. When I start something I like to learn all about it and while the learning curve has been at times frustrating and confusing it has also been very accessible. There are tons of books to learn from, great websites, many of which are filled with lots of knowledgeable people who are willing to answer questions, provide critique and technical support when necessary. Everything I've learned about photography I've learned from practice, trial and error and exploration. It is counter to how I would prefer to do things (I'd rather go back to school in the comfort of a classroom with a trained professional!) but it has forced me to be resourceful and creative and I've gained so much more because of that.

***EDITED*** (To include the part I was really going to write about before I started rambling!)
So my artistic voice. Oh yeah, that, which is what I was going to write about before I got distracted by my own rambling. (And now I'm distracted by how loud the keyboard is at 12:45am!) In any art that I have explored/pursued I strove for perfection. Art+perfectionism=not good. I could never quite get whatever I was creating to look like what I saw in my mind's eye. And I couldn't accept the end product. In high school I used to paint but I stopped because I just couldn't get it right and I would mess with a painting until it was indeed an actual mess. (Which some would consider art). But photography is different. I can photograph what I "see". And I LOVE that. Really love it. And if I don't get what I see in the image I do it again. And again. And sometimes 200 agains. And I am not wasting film or chemicals or paper or even digital space. And after I photograph what I see, I can play with it in Photoshop and make it something else. Or add some text. Or crop it or blow it up. Photography is creating art as perfectly as I can. And because I have that outlet for my perfectionism I can accept less than perfect in my other arts and crafts. Although, the flaw in one of the wash clothes I knitted still bothers me when I take a bath. Seriously people, I have issues!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Practice...

As a photographer I am continually trying to hone my skills. But to do that I need subjects. And it's not always easy to find willing ones. I tried to recruit, okay bribe, Owen to help me out today. But as you can see he wasn't that willing.

And while the picture isn't bad, technically it's a good picture, I know it's not HIS best work! He was a very unwilling subject despite my promises of candy. And I am not as patient with him as I am with other people's children. For example, I would not say to a client's child, "just look out the window and hold still!" And I wouldn't allow a clients child to play with their Buzz doll the entire time either. Or yell, "MAMA!!! I'm just trying to pew here!!" We don't work well together.

So I resorted to subjects that are a lot easier to control. Thank you Woody and Buzz you were great! I will get you some really nice candy the next time I'm at the store!! Just don't give any to that uncooperative child you play with.